Functional Academics and Livelihood


By 2005, functional academics was introduced into the curriculum of children with learning difficulties in Seelampur, due to their diverse and unmet learning needs. The teachers at CARENIDHI, drawn from within the team of community workers and guided by consultants, have introduced functional academics into the core curriculum, based on the syllabus of the Sarvashiksha Abhiyan (Classes 1 to 3). Some of the children faced problems getting mainstreamed into local schools (despite the facilitatory efforts of networking with MCD schools in the neigbourhood), and required additional support from us.

Thus was born the prevocational skill development of kitchen craft and cooking as a stepping stone to catering and allied vocations. The team effectively combines functional academics and teaching of skills required for the children to participate in the home kitchen. Some of the children are capable of preparing simple items independently such as salads, sandwiches, chaat, shikanji (lemon juice), etc. They are also trained in the non-culinary essentials of the work required (such as hygiene, keeping the workspace clean and simple arithmetic to maintain accounts), to take the learning towards a vocation/livelihoods programme.

Functional academics has been extended to our new vocational training programmes, covering a wider range of activities, and is integral to the teaching of pre-vocational skills.

A lesson – to name the fruit & talk about it, identify the letter of alphabet, the objects’ name starts with, spell out the steps of the process (recipe), identify utensils to be used


The results of a CARENIDHI study in 2004 pointed to livelihood issues as being high on the priority list among the perceived needs of older children with disabilities and their families. This was contrary to our own expectations that education would feature as an important need, especially since we had earlier involved the community in awareness raising on inclusive education. This knowledge, and the fact that CARENIDHI programmes were mostly catering to the younger children led us to look proactively at the development of prevocational skills for the older children.

To start with, we started the zardosi classes, selecting a young woman from Seelampur as a trainer, whose family business was zardosi work on garments. She was also a member of the community survey team and, therefore, sensitive to the special needs of the children and the families. The zardosi classes soon became so popular that it became the first major inclusive programme of CARENIDHI in Seelampur. Currently, under the able guidance of Neelam, a student from the first batch, we have bright young teenaged girls enthusiastically learning zardosi and working with girls who have disabilities in communication, hearing and mild motor impairments and learning difficulties. we added tailoring classes (2016).The benefeciries of this skill building project are self-employed adults today. We are exploring the possibility of widening this pre-vocational skills development activities by having computer skills programmes with some help from CARENIDHI members and Partner organizations in East Delhi.

An informal assesment of community needs has pointed out the need for digital literacy. Starting April 2022 , we will be introducing our beneficiaries to basic computer skills linked to functional academics for girls with disbalities .